0

Crime victims gather for wreath hanging ceremony

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Juan Martinez, left, shakes the hand of guest vocalist Rebecca Carlisle, center, as the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office recognizes local victims and their families with a ceremony during National Crime Victims Rights Week at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. Speakers District Attorney Danny Porter, back left, and Braxton Cotton, back center, Executive Director of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council spoke to the crowd during the annual wreath hanging. Major Paul Tucker, right, with the Gwinnett County Police Department shakes the hand of Emma Martinez. Juan's brother Sergio Martinez was killed on New Years Eve in 2011.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Juan Martinez, left, shakes the hand of guest vocalist Rebecca Carlisle, center, as the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office recognizes local victims and their families with a ceremony during National Crime Victims Rights Week at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. Speakers District Attorney Danny Porter, back left, and Braxton Cotton, back center, Executive Director of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council spoke to the crowd during the annual wreath hanging. Major Paul Tucker, right, with the Gwinnett County Police Department shakes the hand of Emma Martinez. Juan's brother Sergio Martinez was killed on New Years Eve in 2011.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan The colors are presented by the Gwinnett County Honor Guard as the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office recognizes local victims and their families with a ceremony during National Crime Victims Rights Week at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. Speakers District Attorney Danny Porter and Braxton Cotton, Executive Director of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council spoke to the crowd during the annual wreath hanging.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Jenene Woods Craig and daughter Kristen poses for a photograph in front of the wreath hung on the door of the Gwinnett County District Attorneyis Office at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. The DA's office held a ceremony for victims and their families during National Crime Victims Rightis Week. The two were at the event to honor their father and husband, Keith Woods, who was killed in 2001 in a vehicular homicide.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Braxton Cotton the Executive Director of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council addresses the crowd during the annual wreath hanging as the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office recognizes local victims and their families with a ceremony at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Simone Jordan kisses the head of her 6-month-old son Hayden as guest vocalist Rebecca Carlisle sings during the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office recognizes local victims and their families with a ceremony during National Crime Victims Rights Week at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. Jordan's son Angelo Larocca was killed during a robbery in June 2011.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Hayden Jordan loves to stare at his brother's photo.

Just six months old, he doesn't know that the teenager in the picture -- 19-year-old Angelo Larocca -- was shot and killed two years ago. Hayden doesn't know what his brother, murdered before he was even born, meant to their mother.

"One day he'll understand," that mother, Simone Jordan, said Friday. "And he'll know what's going on."

Hayden and Simone Jordan were at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center alongside a handful of other crime victims Friday morning, joining the district attorney's office for its annual ceremony recognizing National Crime Victims Rights Week.

Prior to a wreath hanging ceremony, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter spoke briefly, saying that this week's bombing in Boston "reinforces the need for victim's services." He then introduced Braxton Cotton, the executive director of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

"I understand that victims, including the most vulnerable in our society, are touched by violent crime every day, and thousands of Georgians become victims of crime each year," Cotton said to the crowd of victims, law enforcement and elected officials.

"These victims may suffer emotional, physiological, psychological and financial hardship as a result of their victimization. But today we stand together facing our new challenges with new solutions."

Jordan, whose son was killed during a robbery-turned-murder in 2011, sang the praises of Gwinnett's Victim Witness Program.

She said they have kept her informed throughout the process, and that one of the office's advocates has been by her side at all hearings she had attended (one of her son's alleged killers was sentenced to life earlier this year; the other is scheduled for trial next month).

"It just shows people care, it shows that people you don't know care," Jordan said. " ... And it makes you know that people remember, and really that they care about you. They care about your story."

Jordan said that, via friends she's met in support groups, she's seen the process in other nearby counties -- and it's not nearly the same.

Cotton, if not directly, echoed the sentiment.

"The citizens of Gwinnett County are very fortunate to have an office of advocates that unselfishly provide assistance to victims of crimes and their families," he said.